Ron Paul: We don't need FEMA
August 27th, 2011
03:59 PM ET
9 years ago

Ron Paul: We don't need FEMA

(CNN) - As Hurricane Irene barrels along the U.S. East Coast, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said the nation would be much better off without the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I live on the Gulf Coast. We put up with hurricanes all the time," the GOP presidential candidate told CNN after a New Hampshire campaign event Friday. "There's no magic about FEMA. More and more people are starting to recognize that."

Paul has long been a critic of the agency, which he calls a "great contributor to deficit financing."

With more than 7,600 employees, FEMA falls under the Department of Homeland Security and coordinates response efforts when disasters strike.

Citing the Galveston hurricane in 1900 that obliterated much of the Texas coast, the libertarian-leaning congressman said Americans were able to rebuild their cities and put up a seawall without the federal government's help.

"FEMA is not a good friend of most people in Texas," Paul said. "All they do is come in and tell you what to do and can't do. You can't get in your houses. And they hinder the local people, and they hinder volunteers from going in."

After Hurricane Ike demolished parts of the Texas coast in 2008, Paul voted against a bill that would funnel billions in aid to the area, which covers his congressional district.

FEMA has since pumped more than $3 billion in federal funds into the state.

The agency received wide criticism in 2005 for failing to respond in a timely, organized manner to the vast destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

- CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • FEMA • Ron Paul
soundoff (1,050 Responses)
  1. Anthony

    Just keep the federal Gov't out of it. Let the states deal with it. If people want to continue to live in natural disaster areas and face the full consequences of doing so, then so be it. But why should my money be used for every natural disaster that takes place? Either the state or private charities can deal with it.

    August 27, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  2. Matthew

    "All they do is come in and tell you what to do and can't do."

    This is the sum of Paul's objections – his fringe libertarianism would rather see people engage in all sorts of risky, destruction, self-gratifying, or otherwise foolish behaviors than to have someone more experienced and informed tell them they shouldn't. Why do you think the man supports drug legalization?

    FEMA failed us when Hurricane Katrina struck, this is true enough. But this was an unprecedented disaster made far worse by human actions. Since then they've improved considerably.

    August 27, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  3. jeff

    FEMA is useless they hinder progress if anything. The national guard and reserves do a better job at really getting things done.

    August 27, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  4. Adamus

    When Common Sense and Intelligence come together, you have Ron Paul. Most Americans will call him crazy, but instead of crazy, he is just so ridiculously smart it takes most by surprise. I would like to adjust the US government, agencies and tax system, etc etc over to a Ron Paul Ideal....but never happen due to it sounding RADICAL. Most to stupid to understand his brilliance.

    August 27, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  5. Pat in IL

    What an idiot. He would put people into a position of serious disadvantage just to "make a point". Not intelligent.

    August 27, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  6. ravanne

    So let's make a deal – anyone who doesn't agree with having FEMA around must sign a waver that if their house gets destroyed by a flood, storm, earthquake, tornado, blizzard or any other disaster that that area is prone to (and just about every square inch of the US is prone to at least one, if not more, of those), they will not accept or be allowed to accept any possible aid by FEMA. That is not limited to rescue, emergency supplies, transport to a safe location, temporary housing or aid in finding missing relatives. You basically will be on your own, or can take help from any private organizations that get no money from the federal government. And while we're at it, don't bother listening to the news for weather reports since the agency that monitors hurricanes and tornadoes is funded by the federal government, and the organizations that handle earthquakes and volcannoes get federal money. You're on your own folks.

    August 27, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  7. Colin

    You have to remember, Ron Paul only speaks for privileged folks like himself. He is completely out of touch with the average American who works paycheck to paycheck to survive. Of course his privileged ilk has personal insurance, home insurance, supplemental insurance, etc... and can pick up and move temporarily to one of their vacation homes in the event of an emergency. 90% of us dont possess such resources. Hence the fundamental idea of government. Continue to blame government programs that are designed to assist people while ignoring the real problems we face – unchecked corporate power and the lack of livable income – and we will have a true revolution on our hands, not one of these rhetorical Ron Paul "Revolutions" that privileged college kids dream of. Your privilege counts for nothing in the midst of a true revolution.

    August 27, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  8. Matthew

    "FEMA did. Individuals are much better at helping out other people than inefficient government agencies."

    Maybe. But maybe not. When you have a big disaster, you need coordination of and between volunteer groups. Management and direction is critical, as is an authority which can tell people where to go and where its too dangerous to.

    Churches are great at handing out bottled water, but not so great at coordinating thousands (or even tens of thousands) of volunteers.

    August 27, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  9. focusonjobs1

    Ron Paul is right, we don't need FEMA..... Until we need them. If we are grading the agency on its past performance (Katrina) it gets an F. Let’s see how useful it is after this one. I'll bet every State that has any damage will have its hand out. The States are in no position to handle any major disasters, that's why you hear Governors crying about Federal assistance when one happens.

    August 27, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  10. Calamerica

    If and when the next national catastrophy takes place due to the weather, I want to see Ron Paul and his supporters cut a huge check in relief support. Put your money where your mouth is!! The Bucks start with you Mr. Ron Paul then, maybe, the government want have to.

    August 27, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  11. Joe800

    ....of course he says that now, AFTER Texas received BILLIONS in $$$ from FEMA in just 2's always the redneck states that whine the loudest about taxes, but then collect more in aid from agencies like FEMA than big tax paying states NY, NJ, Illinois, Mi, Mass....

    August 27, 2011 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  12. dan

    RON PAUL didn't just "make a statement" in the wake of Irene or whatever. He was asked point blank about FEMA and he answered.

    It's that simple. Even a hurricane doesn't shake this man's principles – because after all he believes, and there is plenty of history and facts to show, that he may be more right than the sorry ways we have blindly followed in recent years.

    August 27, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  13. T'sah from Virginia

    I don't know whether to admire Paul for his consistently or think of him as being "Koo-Koo”[sic]. I can't really call him crazy because he has many followers and it's growing... Therefore, I'll admire him for his consistency!

    August 27, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  14. Henry

    To all Independents – This is what you get when you keep electing the Republicans. Stand up and fight these monsters.

    August 27, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  15. Ryan

    Good. So all of the people who are against FEMA and state organized disaster preparedness and relief can STFU when it comes time for federal money to be given out. Rick Perry also is an ardent supporter of states handling disasters until his state catches on fire.

    August 27, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  16. BDM

    May Osama Bin Laden now rest in peace. His goal was to cripple us financially and to cause division amongst us. "Mission Accomplished."

    August 27, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  17. JAMES

    Mr. Paul makes great sense only when he SPEAKS! He is the most intelligent, educated, well-read, common sensical having candidate running for President! He is against the STATUS QUO! If you are patient & intelligent enough to follow what he says & taking nothing out of context you will learn much! He is soooo right about the government & its wasteful ways! I work in the government setting & I see waste every day! When I call it to peoples attention they then see that THEY are part of the problem & not the solution.
    I am tired of our government just handing money over to those that are not sick or injured! Take care of yourself if you are an ADULT!!!

    August 27, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. USMC

    For those of you who want to live in the Middle Ages...........good luck!

    August 27, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. veritas

    the fact that this idiot actually has comments here supporting his brand of lunacy just underscores how badly this country has drifted into post-climax societal decay. ignorant americans are getting what they so richly deserve, that is foooor sure.

    August 27, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  20. Don Mega

    Hurricane Katrina. FEMA failed. Brown failed. Bush failed. Citizen's guns were taken at gun point by the National Guard. People were left without shelter, without a way to protect themselves, and people died.

    FEMA was not capable then of handling Hurricane Katrina, and they sure as hell aren't capable now to handle any major disaster.

    End of discussion.

    August 27, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  21. 40acres

    I might agree if "good job" Brownie was still in charge but it seems that things are working fairly well during this emergency. I wonder why?

    August 27, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  22. Nick

    The guy wants to cut anything and everything except medicare because he and his son sees medicare patients!

    August 27, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  23. phred

    Right or wrong on this issue, the one thing he proves by making this statement in the midst of a major hurricane is that he is too stupid to win an election.

    August 27, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  24. Guessed

    Ron Paul pounds the US Govt. and drags down the dollar while investing in gold.

    Ayn Rand espoused eugenics.

    Cat the TeaBaggers even read?

    August 27, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  25. Tristan

    For all you people who say we need FEMA and Ron Paul is a nut and twit. You are whats wrong with this country. You have been brainwashed into thinking that the government has to do everything for you. This is why we are $15 trillion in debt. Ron Paul is the only one who has it right. By the way, he isn't saying there shouldn't be help for those who need it. He is saying that the help can come from other sources like volunteers and charities plus if the STATE or LOCAL governments want to have an emergency management team it can, he is just saying the FEDERAL BEHEMOTH doesn't need to spend billions of dollars on a unconstitutional agency of which there are dozens. Get your heads out of the sand and stop sticking your hand out for free stuff from big brother and I dont know, become self reliant. Once you are self reliant and can take of yourself and your family then you can help other people instead of letting Uncle Sam take care of you.

    August 27, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
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